• allergy;
  • α-amylase;
  • bakers' asthma;
  • IgE;
  • wheat flour

Although airborne allergens in bakeries and confectioneries cause one of the most common forms of occupational asthma, namely, bakers' asthma, only a few of them are known in detail so far. Here we summarize current knowledge of bakery allergens and describe our own two-dimensional (2-D) immunoelectrophoresis studies of wheat-flour allergens as well as the allergenic baking enzyme Asp o 2. Out of approximately 700 soluble wheat polypeptides, 70 show IgE binding; the following wheat-flour allergens could be identified and characterized: members of the a-amylase inhibitor family (14–18 kDa), acyl-CoA oxidase (26 kDa), peroxidase (36 kDa), and fructose-bisphosphate aldolase (37 kDa). However, the great majority ofthe soluble wheat-flour allergens, mainly located in the 27-, 55-, and 70-kDa areas of the 2-D immunoblots with pi values of 5.8–6.8, 5.9–6.5, and 5.5–6.1, respectively, are not known at present. Asp o 2, to which approximately 25% of all bakers with respiratory symptoms are sensitized, is a well-characterized starch-cleaving enzyme. We conclude that great effort is still needed to describe all major wheat-flour allergens. As shown by Asp o 2, knowledge of the causative allergens and their characteristics enables us to initiate very effective preventive measures such as the introduction of granulated allergenic products.